July 29, 2010
Carbon Cronyism: Why Cap-and-Trade Is Not Dead Yet
This past weekend, while addressing the Netroots convention in Las Vegas, Senator Harry Reid gave the gathering of lefties a promise regarding U.S. health care. "We're going to have a public option," Reid said. "It's just a question of when."
The same thing can be said of a cap-and-trade energy bill: The Democrats are determined to get cap-and-trade. It's just a question of when. There's too much money to be made for Democrat cronies to let this opportunity pass.
Nancy Pelosi pushed the original 1,200-page cap-and-trade bill though the House of Representatives a year ago. I have written extensively about the innards of the legislation both in my book, Climategate, and in the pages of the American Thinker. Given the mood of the people, it's unlikely that a similar monster of a bill could pass the Senate this session. However a scaled down version with some so-called compromises just might.
The compromises will be creative and designed to lure enough Republicans and voter-sensitive Democrats to the dark side. One such deal might include allowing more domestic drilling for oil and natural gas, or perhaps the expansion/construction of oil refineries. Any giveaways to the oil industry would be a lucrative trade-off, especially since these entities will be financially reamed by cap-and-trade.
Once deals are cut, it will be like a Three-Card Monte street hustle. Whatever the Senate passes will be craftily conjoined with the gargantuan House bill in committee, and then sent back to the two chambers for a final vote. Before you know it, the new legislation will wind up on the desk of the man who wants to transform America.
And even if it's only the proverbial "nose of the camel" that's allowed under the tent, some form of cap-and-trade will be in the bill.
Recall that cap-and-trade works like this: Members of President Obama's team will look at every industry sector in America and determine how much carbon dioxide individual businesses and companies are allowed to emit -- that's the cap. If an entity surpasses its defined annual cap, it must purchase carbon credits from a government-approved exchange. If that same business were to see its carbon emissions remain below the imposed cap, it would gain credits.
At the end of each year, the government will auction off new permits to carbon producers. Businesses with leftover credits from the prior year will be able to hold them for a specified period of time, and then, depending on demand, sell them later for a greater profit. Long sales, short sales, speculation, and loaning credits for cash -- it will all be possible with cap-and-trade. Even derivatives trading is allowed. Well-placed investment bankers and brokers are eyeing cap-and-trade as their biggest opportunity since the internet bubble -- and big-government liberals are excited, too. With each transaction on the exchange, the brokers will get a commission, investors will get an easy "vig" (as they arrogantly say behind the scenes in the investment world), and the feds will take an even easier skim. According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2015, the federal government will be hauling in at least $104 billion a year from cap-and-trade. Investors are anticipating even more.
The officially recognized carbon exchange will likely be awarded to a privately held company called the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). As mysterious as the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, CCX was created as the first voluntary cap-and-trade system established in the U.S.
And as conspiratorial as it may sound, Barack Obama has been in on this for many years. In fact, before Obama was ever elected to public office, he was recruited to the board of the radical, non-profit Joyce Foundation, where he served from 1994 to 2001. Joyce gave over $1 million in two separate grants that were instrumental in developing and launching the privately owned Chicago Climate Exchange.
When the foundation made its first grant to the Climate Exchange, Joyce's president was Paula DiPerna. DiPerna left the organization in 2001 to become a founding executive vice president of CCX. In 2009, Ed Barnes of Fox News interviewed DiPerna and asked about Obama's role in the grants. She replied that as a director, Obama "read the proposal and voted on the grant."
And some of America's biggest moneymakers are lined up and ready to drink the milk of this Chicago-based cash cow.
As I expose in my book, Climategate, foremost on the list are Al Gore and his former Goldman Sachs business buddies, including past Goldman CEO Hank Paulson (Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush) and Philip Murphy (once Chair of the Democratic Finance Committee). Together with Gore, these chums founded Generation Investment Management (GIM) in London. GIM is a hedge fund that specializes in "green investments" and is worth over $1 billion. GIM is said to have a 20-percent stake in Europe's official carbon trading exchange, the European Climate Exchange (ECX), as well as a significant stake in the Chicago Exchange.
Goldman Sachs also owns ten percent of CCX. Indeed, in 2009, Goldman's website boasted:
Goldman Sachs is active in the markets for carbon emissions. ... Additionally, we have created new financial products to help our clients manage the risks posed by climate change. In September 2006, we made a minority equity investment in Climate Exchange PLC, which owns several European and US trading platforms that facilitate trading in environmental financial instruments: the European Climate Exchange (ECX), [and] the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).
Another player set to cash in on carbon is Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firm, Kleiner-Perkins (KP). And guess who's a partner at KP: Al Gore. And guess who has an investment in the Chicago Climate Exchange: KP.
Together, these well-connected characters stand to make billions of dollars off cap-and-trade.
But now an additional element of cronyism has surfaced: Former Clinton and Obama advisor -- and former Fannie Mae CEO -- Franklin Raines has positioned the government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae to make big bucks in the carbon trading marketplace by selling carbon credits straight off the backs of the American homeowner.
Raines is listed as one of several "co-inventors" for U.S. patent numbers 6904336 and 7133750, both of which are titled "System and Method for Residential Emissions Trading." The patents give Fannie Mae the exclusive rights for identifying and measuring energy savings in homes that can then be packaged and sold as credits on the carbon exchange. The patents speak of "replacing older appliances with more energy-efficient appliances; upgrading domestic hot-water heating systems; upgrading heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; modifying lighting; [and] fuel switching and renovating the entire home" and speak of "installing insulating insulation in attics and exterior walls; installing more efficient windows; and reducing infiltration."
The patents allow Fannie to establish an energy baseline on a home (likely through the installation of the new Smart Meters, which calculate and record energy usage on a minute-by-minute basis) and by "onsite" inspectors conducting "visual inspection."
Readers of American Thinker know these onsite inspectors are what I call "the green goon squad."
Buried in the House version of cap-and-trade are federally mandated energy-efficient building regulations, which supersede all local and state codes. These new building codes will be enforced by a federal green goon squad, funded in part by revenues from energy taxes, as well as by an annual $25 million from the Department of Energy "to provide necessary enforcement of a national energy efficiency building code[.]"
Each time a home is built, remodeled, or preparing to be sold, a G-man wearing a federal badge and armed with a clipboard will show up at your house to make sure you have proper insulation, efficient windows, and Energy Star appliances, and are in compliance with the components necessary to adapt to the coming Smart Grid. The costs associated with the upgrades will either be partially offset with a tax credit or rolled into the new loan, or both. However, it's pretty clear that at least some of the money generated from the sale of the home's carbon credits will be awarded to Fannie Mae.
Once your house is up to code, you will receive a certificate -- or label -- of compliance. Without the certificate, your home essentially will be blacklisted.
Section 204 of the House bill states that the goal of this certification, or "Energy Performance Labeling Program," is to see ninety percent of the homes in America labeled within five years. The EPA will get $50 million each year to enforce the labeling program. The Secretary of the Department of Energy will get an additional $20M each year to help the EPA.
One way to get rich in America is to have a patent on a popular product, and the patents on this green scheme will rake in the cash. Usually, a business patent royalty is one percent. Multiply that times the 100 million homes in the U.S. (and who knows how many carbon credits will be attached to each house, or what the credits will be worth?) and you have a handful of people who will can go on a five-star tropical vacation for the rest of their lives. Specifically, those associates are:
- The aforementioned Clinton and Obama crony, Franklin Raines.
- Scott Lesmes, former Fannie Mae Deputy General Counsel.
- Robert Sahadi, former Fannie Mae Vice President who now runs GreenSpace Investment Financial Services.
- Kenneth Berlin, an environmental attorney who has worked for Fannie Mae, and also a Barack Obama fundraiser.
- Michelle Desiderio, she developed an associated scheme for Fannie Mae called the Energy Efficient Mortgage. Desiderio is now director of the National Green Building Certification program, which will likely train the green goon squad.
- Elizabeth Arner Cavey, wife of Democratic apparatchik Brian Cavey of the Stanton Park Group, which received $200,000 last year to lobby on climate change legislation.
- Jane Bartels, widow of Carlton Bartels -- who some refer to as inventor of carbon credit trading.
Interestingly, Smart Meters have already been installed on millions of homes in America. These devices will make Raines-patented methodologies easier to carry out. The meters were mandated via the Federal Energy Act of 2005 and will eventually be connected to the coming Smart Grid that was announced in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Funding for the grid came through the "stimulus" bill in 2009. Construction will ensue if the pending energy legislation becomes law.
The kicker is, the two Fannie Mae patents were approved just months before the 2005 Energy Act was signed into law.
We've got to prevent cap-and-trade from passing -- in any form.
Brian Sussman is an award-winning meteorologist who hosts a popular morning radio talk show on KSFO in San Francisco. His highly acclaimed book, Climategate: a veteran meteorologist exposes the global warming scam, is published by WND Books.